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Future Oncol. 2012 Jan;8(1):55-71. doi: 10.2217/fon.11.135.

Protein biomarkers of ovarian cancer: the forest and the trees.

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University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Hillman Cancer Center, 5117 Centre Avenue 1.18, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


The goal of effective population-based screening for ovarian cancer remains elusive despite intense efforts aimed at improving upon biomarker and imaging modalities. While dozens of potential serum biomarkers for ovarian cancer have been identified in recent years, none have yet overcome the limitations that have hindered the clinical use of CA-125. Avenues of opportunity in biomarker development are emerging as investigators are beginning to appreciate the significance of remote, as well as local or regional, sources of biomarkers in the construction of diagnostic panels, as well as the importance of evaluating biomarkers in prediagnostic settings. As the list of candidate biomarkers of ovarian cancer continues to grow, refinements in the methods through which specific proteins are selected for further development as components of diagnostic panels are desperately sought. Such refinements must take into account both the bioinformatic and biological significance of each candidate. Approaches incorporating these considerations may potentially overcome the challenges to early detection posed by the histological heterogeneity of ovarian cancer. Here, we review the recent progress achieved in efforts to develop diagnostic biomarker panels for ovarian cancer and discuss the challenges that remain.

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